Collecting data and creating a timetable

There is a five-stage process to follow to ensure that timetables are produced in an accurate, timely and effective way.

Stages

Stage 1: establishing timetable requirements

In stage 1 you need to follow a series of instructions relating to process, deadlines, spreadsheet creation and email templates, to help establish timetable requirements.

Process

To establish the timetable requirements for the coming year, you must cross-check the teaching scheduled for the timetables against that quoted in the University’s module catalogue. 

To do this, import the teaching quoted in the module catalogue into the module information in Syllabus Plus. This appears in "usertext 1" of the module.

Deadline

31 March is the deadline for changes and updates to the module catalogue. We strongly recommend you produce a spreadsheet showing a list of all the active modules for the coming year (example below) at the beginning of April to ensure the information is accurate and up to date.

The University is open to appeal if the information published in the module catalogue does not match reality.

Example spreadsheet 

Timetabling example spreadsheet

Instructions to produce spreadsheet

  1. In Syllabus Plus open a module screen.
  2. Filter this screen by "Department" to leave the modules relating to your school.
  3. Click on any of the modules in the list and press "CTRL" and "A" on your keyboard to select all your modules.
  4. Go to "File" and "Save as". From the "Format" drop-down menu select "Spreadsheet".
  5. In the box (bottom left of the screen) select "ModCat list".
  6. Click on the "Browse" button and navigate to a folder where you would like to save this file (for example, desktop). Click "Save". This will save the modules to a text file.
  7. Run Excel and click "Open".
  8. Navigate to where you saved the above text file. Change "Files of Type" to "Text Files" and select the text file you saved in Step 6.
  9. Click "Open".
  10. Keep clicking "Next" through the Text Import Wizard and then "Finish".
  11. Remove the first row of the spreadsheet and then resize your columns as appropriate.

Once you have this base spreadsheet you can add extra columns for tracking purposes.

For example:

Timetabling example spreadsheet with additional columnsYou may now need to check with teaching staff the details of the activities to be taught. You can collect this information by sending them this generic Data collection form (Word). 

If you want to modify the form to meet your particular requirements, contact the timetabling team for advice.

We strongly advise you to use this spreadsheet, with a column showing which modules are scheduled and which are not, as an ongoing progress record. You may also want to send it out periodically to module leaders and teaching staff within your school. 

Further example spreadsheet

Email template

Dear all

Please find attached a report showing the current status of the timetables for the coming year.

I would be grateful if module leaders and teaching staff could get back to me regarding the module activities that are not yet scheduled.

Online enrolment begins on <insert date - see timetable timeline> and the process to allocate central teaching rooms (lecture theatres) begins on 1 May.

Where we have no activities scheduled for modules we are in danger of experiencing problems with securing rooms as well as displaying blank module timetables to students who are attempting to enrol.

<insert signature> 

Stage 2: data checking and scheduling

When timetabling, in stage 2 you need to cleanse the data, check the activity templates, and check and schedule the activities.

Data cleansing

Filter to your activities and:

  • look down the full list and tidy up as necessary making sure you are consistently using the standard naming convention for timetable activities: Module code\Activity Type\Activity number (eg LUBS330001\LEC 1\01)
  • make sure the activity types reflect the way the teaching is described in the module catalogue.

 

Activity template checks

 

  • Check that the activity type for the activity template is correct. This is very important as the activity type determines what appears on the students’ timetables. For example, activity type LEC01 appears on the student timetable as "Lecture 1".
  • Check that you have the correct number of activities in the template. For lectures this would typically be just one. For seminars, tutorials etc, it should be the number of groups that are required.

Activity template screen checklist

Activity template screen checklist
 Tab Action
 ID Check activity type
 Planning Check you have the correct number of activities in the template
 Usertext and tags

If required, add the following tags:

  • Preset student allocation
  • Drop-in session
  • Not duplicate

Activity checks

 

Check the following:

 

 

  • Plan size: make sure it’s realistic. Double-click on the module to check the "cap" size as dictated by Banner. This will help you make an informed judgement when setting the plan size.
  • Week pattern: use the "availability" tab. Where possible use a "named activity".
  • Day, time and duration: amend in the ID tab.
  • Suitability of room if a central teaching room is required: use the "Resources" tab. Equipment in central teaching rooms can change from year to year so it’s critical to state the equipment needed "EQP" in Syllabus Plus to avoid unsuitable rooms being allocated.

Considerations

 

  • Where a central teaching room is required, make sure you add the "requires cts" tag in the "Usertext and tags" screen. If the activity is to be taught in a school-owned room, you can allocate the room to the activity yourself.
  • Allocate a staff member to the teaching activity. This is crucial because this data feeds directly into the University’s attendance-monitoring system.
  • Schedule the activity. If the activity will not schedule it is probably because there is a student-set clash: either change the time/day of the activity or contact the timetabling team for advice.
  • If you need to set up new activities make sure you generate them from an activity template. Once you have generated the activity, run through the above checks before scheduling.

Activity screen checklist

Activity screen checklist
Screen Action 
ID  Check: plan, size, day, time, duration and activity type 
Availability  Check: week pattern 
Resource 

Check: location suitabilities - add and remove as appropriate. As a minimum select "ZONE" and "TYPE"

Allocate room if school-owned

Allocate staff - important for attendance monitoring 

Usertext and tag

If required, add the following tags:

 

  • Requires cts
  • Consecutive activities
  • Linked activities

 

Timetable  Schedule the activity 

Consecutive activities: use when a member of staff has two or more consecutive teaching activities and moving between teaching rooms would be problematic (for example, if transporting teaching materials).

Linked activities: add this to activities with ad hoc week patterns which, when joined together, would make a full semester week pattern (for example, 11 single-week tutorials all at the same time). This allows us to justify allocating a room early as this scenario effectively constitutes a full semester booking.

Scheduling

As a starting point, schedule the activities at the same time as in the previous year.

For new modules, check the information in the module catalogue then either:

 

  • ask the module leader and teaching staff when they would prefer to teach

or 

 

  • schedule the activities and ask the module leader and teaching staff if they are happy with the times you have given them. 

Stage 3: initial data check

Email module leaders to ask them to do an initial check of the timetable data. Your first email to module leaders and teaching staff is critical.

Email contents

Your email should contain:

 

  • a formal announcement that you have started the timetable cycle
  • a check against the module catalogue
  • a check of room requirements
  • an explanation of why you are asking for timetable information at this time
  • a request for feedback.

Suggested email template

Dear <insert name>

Module code: <insert module code>.

The timetable data collection process for <insert year> has started. I have scheduled the teaching activities relating to this module at the same time(s) as last year. Please see link below:

<insert link to module>

The teaching approved for the module and published in the module catalogue is:

<insert usertext 1 of the module> which is a good match to the timetabled information.

<Or if necessary insert the following:

I notice that the "actual" teaching scheduled for the module is different from the module teaching published in the catalogue. Please could you confirm the teaching which will be delivered for this module in <insert year>. If it differs from the teaching approved and published you will need to get approval for a module amendment.>

Please could you confirm the room requirements for the module. In particular, please could you let me know if central rooms are needed, including any specific equipment needed and your preference for a lecture theatre, flat-floored room or computer cluster. There is no guarantee you will be given the same location as last year but if you have a specific requirement for a particular room please let me know and I will submit your preference.

Please could you let me have a response by <insert date>.

It is important that I receive this information from you before the central teaching rooms are allocated; the process begins on 1 May for lecture theatres and mid-July for the seminar rooms.

If there are reasons why you are unable to confirm the teaching activities for this module within the University’s timeline for timetable data collection, please let me know and I will feed this back to the central Timetable and Room Bookings team. 

Online module enrolment will start on <insert date - see timetable timeline> this year. The more accurate the timetable information is, the more informed students will be when choosing their optional modules.

<insert signature>

Stage 4: timetable confirmation

Send a second email to module leaders confirming the timetable and letting them know what the next step will be.

This email assumes you have had a response to your first email in Stage 3.

Email template

Dear <insert name of module leader>

Module code: <insert module code>

Thank you for getting back to me.

<Insert if necessary>: <I have made the changes you asked for and have submitted your request for central teaching rooms. Please check the updated module timetable:>

<insert link to update module timetable> 

I will contact you again once rooms have been allocated so you can check the room is appropriate.

<insert signature> 

Stage 5: checking room allocations

Send a final email to module leaders confirming room allocations. This email will normally be sent in mid-August when the draft timetable is published.

Email template

Dear <insert name of module leader>

Module code: <insert module code> 

The draft timetable, including room allocations, for the coming year has been published. Please remember that these allocations are provisional and subject to change without notice. The final locations will be fixed on about 10 September. I will inform you if the venue changes.

Please check the suitability of the allocated rooms.

<insert link to module timetables showing the rooms> - this link will be communicated by the Timetabling and Room Bookings team when the draft timetable is published.

If any of the rooms allocated are unsuitable I will explore alternatives with the central Timetabling and Room Bookings team.

<insert signature>


Training

Contact the timetabling team:
  • to arrange Syllabus Plus training; or 
  • if you are unsure about anything relating to the data collection process or the timetable generally (eg software, process, communications, reports from Syllabus Plus).
Access the Syllabus Plus online training materials

View process and timeline for creating timetables 2015/16